Due to tightened security, Fort Jackson will no longer be as open to bicycle riders. I have clocked almost 10,000 miles on the fort and will miss it very much. There is much going on within its walls. It’s an active post resembling a small town, with administrative buildings, barracks and housing, a golf course, a pool, bowling alley, churches and parks. But its real mission is to develop soldiers, something I have had the privilege of seeing up close.
In mid-November, I took perhaps my last ride through the fort and on out into the vast stretch of land that has been my friend for the past two and a half years. I ran into a company of soldiers marching in formation, with the ever-present drill instructor leading the way. I gave the drill instructor a salute, and he acknowledged it in his own way, with a big grin and a friendly wave.
I headed out past the long string of firing ranges, where several were active. Up the “Dixie Drag” I rode and kept on past Wildcat Road. It is in this section that advanced training takes place. Another couple of miles, I saw that the dismount and infiltration range was busy. There was also a good deal of automatic fire in the distance.
On my return leg, I got to Hilton Field just as trainee graduation was ending. This is a huge weekly event where family members travel from all over to participate in the graduation ceremony of their son or daughter. I wonder how many faces I have seen over the years have paid the ultimate price to protect me.
I will miss the challenge of the ride and the sights and sounds of an active fort. I will miss seeing scared young recruits get off the bus to become indoctrinated into the Army. I will miss watching the drill instructors patiently teach them how to march and how to handle weapons and, in the end, send them on their way as well-trained professional soldiers.
Wayne C. Fritz